Tomatoes are a major part of most people’s diets and are one of the most widely eaten vegetables. Tomatoes are delicious raw and crunchy in salads. They also make a good sauce for pastas and stews and can be eaten in soup of juice form too.
Most the health benefits of tomatoes are related to their good nutritional content. Tomatoes are a good source of vitamin C with one cup supplying over 50% of the Daily Value. They are also a source of vitamin A, vitamin K and the mineral potassium.
They are also rich in a substance called cysteine. Tomatoes contain a special antioxidant carotenoid called lycopene, which is responsible for most of its health benefits. Health benefits of tomatoes include heart disease protection, cancer prevention and immune boosting.
Tomatoes and Heart Disease Prevention
Next time you cut a tomato in half, marvel at the way it resembles the human heart. Not only in colour, but also in form. Just like a human heart, the tomato has four distinct chambers. Lycopene in tomatoes may help reduce heart disease risk through its ability to lower LDL or bed cholesterol.
Vitamin C also helps protect the blood vessels against damage. The high potassium content of tomatoes makes them useful in reducing high blood pressure, a contributing factor to heart disease.
Tomatoes and Cancer Prevention
Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect cells from free radical damage and therefore cancer formation. Lycopene has been extensively researched as an anti-cancer agent and has applications in colorectal, prostate, breast, endometrial, lung, and pancreatic cancer prevention. Tomatoes applications in preventing colorectal and prostate seem to hold the most promise.
Tomatoes for Cold and Flu Prevention
Foods high in vitamin C, such as tomatoes, help boost the immune system. Vitamin C has been shown to help ward off symptoms of influenza A, the common cold and pneumonia.